The MNY Spotlight
Meet Sarah Kamya, the Founder & President of Diverstories
My name is Sarah Kamya and I am 27 years old and have lived in New York City for almost 6 years. During the day I can be found working at P.S. 191 as an Elementary School counselor, and at night I am either watching the latest Netflix series, reading a book, planning the next big thing for Diverstories or out to dinner with friends. I am very passionate about helping others, especially Black and Brown youth. I grew up right outside of Boston and when I was growing up I was often the only Black girl in my class. It is important for me to celebrate and amplify others in any way possible; whether I am working with my 5th grade girls group, sending books to a low income community, or installing a Little Free Diverse Library outside of a school, there is so much we can do to highlight and share diverse stories and I am working to do that, one book at a time.
Follow along on Instagram @littlefreediverselibraries
After weeks in isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic and in the wake of George Floyd’s death, I found myself feeling lost and lacking connection and community. I found myself going on nightly strolls and passing the same three Little Free Libraries in my neighborhood of Arlington, MA. As an avid reader and book lover, I often stopped by these Libraries to see what books were inside and I was disappointed to see the lack of representation of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) authors and characters. Overnight what started out as an idea at the dinner table, turned into a movement. I was receiving venmo donation after donation to purchase books from Black-owned bookstores which had taken a hit due to the pandemic and was also fueling peoples need to connect with diverse literature during a pivotal and every growing moment of civil justice in the United States. Now Diverstories is filling Little Free Libraries in all 50 states with diverse literature, and installing Little Free Diverse Libraries to be a resource and space for these incredibly important and special books to live.
It is important to me to amplify diverse voices through literature because so often Black and Brown youth are not represented or celebrated in literature. Children of color deserve to see themselves represented in ordinary stories in which a character’s race is not their defining characteristic. The canon of children’s literature must feature authors of color and texts that portray a diverse range of experience. It is through the sharing of books, the stories that are told to us at bedtime growing up, and the books that are emphasized in school that we can begin to understand one another and our unique but beautiful differences better. By amplifying diverse voices we can normalize diverse stories and bring diverse narratives to the forefront, especially for Black and Brown youth, who so often cannot find themselves represented in literature.
Ah what books am I not reading? Right now I am switching off between a few books, which is not easy for me, but I think it is kind of fun to have different books for moods. I am almost finished with Black Girls Must Be Magic by Jayne Allen, which is a beautiful book that dives into the power of friendship and making dreams come true, no matter what it takes. I just cracked open (isn’t a fresh new book the best feeling ever?), Hell of a Book by Jason Mott and I am halfway through We Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza. I would absolutely recommend Seven Days in June by Tamara Pizzoli, Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid, and Clap When You Land by Elisabeth Acevedo. I also wouldn't be me without recommending my favorite children's books which would have to be, The Year We Learned to Fly by Jaqueline Woodson and Tallulah the Tooth Fairy CEO by Dr. Tamara Pizzoli.
We are planning to install more Little Free Diverse Libraries (LFDLs) at schools across the United States. Having installed a LFDL at my own school this past fall it is so amazing and rewarding to see students and families connect with books and make it part of their morning or afternoon to pick a special book to take home. I hope that one day every Title 1 School has a Little Free Diverse Library standing tall outside their building and that all students of all backgrounds can see themselves represented and celebrated in literature.
My advice for someone who wants to make a difference in their community is to not question it, just go for it. It is one of the most fulfilling things and it can be so simple. I truly believe no idea is too big or too small and that it is possible to create change daily. I would advise someone to start with their close knit community, and build from there. Having the support from friends and family helped me keep going and also helped get my message out there to others.
Sarah wears the Giovanna Midi Dress
I am drawn to the Mestiza brand because each dress tells its own story, and every woman wearing a Mestiza dress has a look of confidence and happiness. I love that Mestiza highlights and amplifies the voices of powerful women and supports the mission and vision of female entrepreneurs, activists, and go-getters.
In these photos you can see me wearing my Mestiza dress around my West Village apartment, because I do not ever need an excuse to dress up, and curling up on the couch in a flowy silky smooth dress with a candle lit and smooth jazz playing in the background is actually all i can ever dream of. But when i am not wearing this gorgeous dress inside my apartment I am wearing my Mestiza piece to a summer wedding in Park City, Utah. Where the glow of the green fabric changes as the sun sets and the ruffles move to the music. My heels are kicked off as I am dancing all night long with my closest friends and I am making sure that everyone knows where this beautiful dress is from. I am wearing the Mestiza pineapple earrings to add a shiny pop and keeping my hairstyle simple and sleek with a slicked back bun. The dress speaks for itself and it moves with me as I dance the night away.